Some 1,000 students are set to receive their first shot of the vaccine
The final-year students of four medical colleges in Dhaka city are set to be the first recipients of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.
As many as 1,000 students will receive their first shot of the vaccine from the 500,000 doses sent to Bangladesh by China on May 12.
The vaccination is scheduled to be inaugurated at Dhaka Medical College (DMC) at 11am, where Health Minister Zahid Maleque is expected to be present as the chief guest, DMC Principal Dr Titu Miah told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
He added that 256 students of DMC would get the Sinopharm shot on Tuesday.
The other three medical colleges where the vaccination will take place are Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mugda Medical College, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Sources at the DGHS said they had already completed the necessary preparations for inoculation centres and booths and rest rooms at all four medical colleges.
After the vaccine is administered on these students, the health authorities will observe them for a week for possible side effects - similar to how they did it when the government launched the trial run of the nationwide vaccination campaign with Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by and procured from Serum Institute of India, in January this year.
After a week, if no severe side effects of the vaccine are reported, the vaccination program will be implemented on a larger scale to immunize more students, said sources at the DGHS vaccination committee.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, DGHS chief Dr ABM Khurshid Alam said students from public and private medical and dental, nursing and medical technology institutes would be given priority for the Sinopharm vaccine, as they are the frontline fighters and the country needed more manpower in the health sector.
The health authorities planned to administer the vaccine in groups to ensure that the second doses were available for the first dose recipients, he added.
Dr Alam further said some Chinese nationals living in Bangladesh would also receive the Sinopharm jabs, but it had yet to be decided as to who else would receive the rest of the vaccine doses.